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Taliban move on Khyber Pass


TALIBAN raiders are trying to strangle NATO's mission in Afghanistan by stepping up attacks on convoys in the Khyber Pass, the perilous mountain trail that carries most supplies into the country. A prominent tribesman from the regional administration, the Khyber Agency, said that the Pakistani army was close to losing control of the pass. "You see vehicles destroyed by rockets on the side of the road," said the man, who cannot be named for his own safety. "The wreckage isn't there for long, the army soon removes it to make it look as if they are still in control of the road. But they are on the verge of losing it." He claimed attacks were occurring almost daily. Earlier this year, 42 oil tankers were destroyed in one Taliban foray...

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Taliban move on Khyber Pass

Nick Meo Peshawar

taliban-celebrating.jpg

August 31, 2008

TALIBAN raiders are trying to strangle NATO's mission in Afghanistan by stepping up attacks on convoys in the Khyber Pass, the perilous mountain trail that carries most supplies into the country.

A prominent tribesman from the regional administration, the Khyber Agency, said that the Pakistani army was close to losing control of the pass.

"You see vehicles destroyed by rockets on the side of the road," said the man, who cannot be named for his own safety. "The wreckage isn't there for long, the army soon removes it to make it look as if they are still in control of the road. But they are on the verge of losing it."

He claimed attacks were occurring almost daily. Earlier this year, 42 oil tankers were destroyed in one Taliban foray.

About 70% of the Nato mission's fuel, clothes and food is transported in civilian Pakistani trucks through the Khyber Pass, a vulnerable point in a long route to Kabul, which begins at the Pakistani port of Karachi. The route is too risky to transport weapons and munitions, and most British supplies travel from Quetta to Helmand.

The importance of the pass has been underlined because hopes that Russia would ease Nato's difficulties by granting access through its territory later this year now look doubtful after the war in Georgia.

"If Nato lost control of the pass, there is no doubt that other routes would be found," said Matthew Clements, the Eurasia analyst for Jane's Country Risk. "But they are more difficult and expensive."Farzana Raja, a spokesman for Pakistan's interior ministry, insisted that security forces would hold the Khyber Pass.

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:: Article nr. 46842 sent on 31-aug-2008 18:05 ECT

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Link: www.theage.com.au/world/taliban-move-on-khyber-pass-20080831-46de.html



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